Thursday, August 21, 2008

Riding the Learning Curve

I can't believe Nate will be four weeks old on Saturday. If my pregnancy seemed to fly by, parenthood travels at the speed of light. I already look at him with a glimmer of tears for how much he has grown and changed in the short number of days I've known him. He continues to amaze me and make me feel things and realize things I never recognized or acknowledged before.

Every millisecond of my existence is monopolized by this tiny little guy. I'm not complaining. This is more of an explanation for my 2.5 week absence. And an honest admission that the responsibility to fulfill someone's each and every desire and need is well...a bit overwhelming at times. Nate has proven to be quite the clingy baby so I can rarely put him down without protest. Holding him and staring at him will never get old but I am also finding it hard to bathe, eat, pee or get much of anything else done - including my blog writing. A true Momma's Boy, he prefers to cuddle with me so DH can only handle him in short spurts. I wonder how on earth I will ever work from home with him (but we'll save that for another post). I feel so guilty letting him cry while I do things for myself. It breaks my heart to hear him wail. And I know happy mommy = happy baby. But it's hard to be happy when your baby is crying for you and you are "too busy" taking a shower or brushing your teeth to respond quickly.

Sadly, the "babymoon" period of my last post only lasted a short while and reality has long set in. I have to admit the past few weeks have been quite challenging. So challenging, in fact, that I have often thought to myself, "what have you done?". There have been numerous times I've felt like a failure at this whole mommy thing. An imposter. As if I'm desperately trying to be something I'm just...not cut out to be.

But then we survive. We make it through to the next day and I gain more confidence in what we can accomplish. I realize we are still getting to know one another. We've been thrust into living together and we have to adjust to each other's quirks and habits. We're still on that learning curve.

Without further ado, here are some nuggets of wisdom I've learned as a newbie mom:

1.) Witching Hour / Colic

Before I was a mom, I had no idea that it was both normal and common for newborns to receive a Bat Call to scream like a banshee for no apparent reason at the same time each night. Every night from 8pm to 11pm, Nate becomes inconsolable. He's been fed (sometimes overfed to the point of spitting up copious amounts of breastmilk), changed, swaddled, given Gripe Water, given a paci - if he'll take it, rocked, bounced, sung to, played with, held with all the lights turned low. You name it, we've tried it. With minimal success. The only thing that has worked consistently is carrying him in this until he passes out. I'm not sure if it is colic or if it is the witching hour that babies use to test their frazzled, sleep-deprived parents. Whatever it is, it certainly makes me feel useless. I always believed that mothers had this intuitive sense to be able to soothe their children. I am living proof that is not always true. I remain hopeful that this will improve in time.

2.) Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has been going fabulously overall. I can only say that after I learned a hard lesson about cluster feeding. Around 2 weeks, Nate went through a growth spurt where he was on the boob literally all night long from 7pm to midnight. Which just happened to fall during the witching hour. So we hit the jackpot of suck. If I took the boob away, pervasive screaming ensued - from Nate's mouth and my mind. I broke down and sobbed, wondering if my supply was low and debating whether I should supplement with those tempting formula samples the hospital provided. Sensing my frustration, Nate continued to fuss and scream to the point that his head resembled a beefsteak tomato. I could see the veins in his scalp pulsating. I was afraid he might burst a blood vessel in his face. I scoured the Internet for tips and came upon this site. What a lifesaver! I found out the problem didn't lay with me and the screaming fits were normal. It makes it a bit difficult to leave the rocking chair when he gets like this, but at least I don't have to question myself. This too shall pass. It's all about management. I have DH fix dinner in the evenings while I devote my body to Nate's will. It's our new routine.

3.) Acid Reflux

Nate also seems to have acid reflux, which is another common ailment in newborns. I thought breastfed babies didn't spit up as much as formula-fed babies but Nate seems to defy the odds. Poor thing spits up after almost every feed. I've tried offering just one breast at a feed (but thereby feeding more often) and keeping him upright for 30 minutes after every feed but he still seems to spit up regardless. My new body fragrance is sour milk. But, he doesn't seem to be bothered too much by it so I take it in stride. He's what they call a "happy spitter" for the most part. The pediatrician assures us that as his esophageal sphincter matures, the reflux will fade. I am hoping to avoid medication but still keep him comfy.

4.) Hiccups

And I thought he got them a lot in the womb! He gets a bout of hiccups at least 2-3 times per day. Nothing to worry about but if he gets them after a feed, it seems to trigger the reflux. The Gripe Water really seems to help with any discomfort he does have as a result.

5.) Nakedness

You know those commercials where the baby is naked and smiling and cooing while a model mom rubs baby oil on its bottom? Yeah, well...not in this house. Nate can't stand to have his diaper changed or to be bathed. I've tried to make it more enjoyable for him by singing or talking him through it but he'll have none of it. Ever since his stump fell off at 10 days old, we've tried to make bathtime a fun experience. He would rather sit in his mustardy, seedy poop than have a wipe or washcloth placed on his buttcheek. Guess its a boy thing.

6.) Mom's Physical Recovery

Physically, I'm doing much better down there. But it was a struggle to get here. The recovery from the tears was worse than I thought it would be. It was 2.5 weeks postpartum before I felt somewhat normal again and could finally pee without the Dermoplast. And pooping? Well, let's just say that if I go once a week, it's reason to celebrate. I know part of it is hormones but Colace and Milk of Magnesia can't even make a dent in it.

On a good note, I've lost 30 lbs. of my total 48 lb. weight gain. So, I only have 18 to go. I've started taking Nate on daily jaunts in the park with the stroller and the Ergo so I'm hoping that will help me shed the rest of the flab.

7.) Mom's Emotional Recovery

Emotionally, I'm doing okay. I find that I'm wishy-washy for lack of a better word. I have shed many a tear, missing my pregnancy. Missing feeling him move inside of me. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the excitement of my growing bump, the showers, the anticipation of his arrival. I look at my belly, just a small pooch, and see the linea negra that serves as the only reminder of how large I once was. I rub it and feel sad that it is no longer taut and round. I spent so much of my pregnancy worrying about loss and I regret not being more carefree and cherishing that time. But yet, I love him so much and I am so thankful to have him here safe and sound. I cry just looking at him, knowing he is mine. Perhaps I have a touch of the baby blues. But I'm sure it is another thing to blame on the damn hormones.

Yes, being a Mommy is a tough job. Maybe harder than I initially believed. But without these struggles, I wouldn't have the vast reward of having my baby stare back at me or watching him laugh and smile in his sleep. I find new reasons to fall in love all over again.

No question. He was definitely worth the wait.


Kate said...

It sounds like you and Nate are doing really well!!

Fertilized said...

Sounds like you are doing hte best for you and Nate. Keep up the good work. I found myself nodding through your post. It gets easier with time and you find yourself with much more confidence with time as well. My lil one was also very very very clingy. (still is) we have found ways around it and we survive those days - and you are too

Shelli said...

You are doing great as a new Mom. Trust me, it gets way better than even your happiest day with Nate. You have so many moments ahead of you, and I am excited for you.

Holly Crosley said...

Oh my dear Kristen...its like looking in a mirror reading most of your post! I still feel those same uncertain and defeated feelings about being a Mommy, but I know I am doing the best I can in love for my little girl. You are doing a FANTASTIC job and Nate is a lucky boy to have you as his Mama! If you ever need support or just someone to vent to, I am ALWAYS here for you. I love you!!

Kim said...

I shouldn't have read this today, now I'm just a mess over here! You're doing a wonderful job, hang in there!

Mrs. Piggy said... will be invaluable to you during breastfeeding, glad you found it already!

i'm so glad you finally posted...i was so excited for the I just cant wait for pictures ;)

Blankenship Babbles said...

Girl...OMG so much of what you have said I could have written it...first of all I visit KellyMom atleast once a week is a life saver...Jolie spit up a lot in the beginning as well...Gripe Water Rocks, it saved us with all stomach issues and the hiccups!!! Jols loved it...and so did I, I was not a fan of the Mylicon drops. The blues are so normal...I had them and still occassionally have them, I hope it's normal :) No it is, we had them in our tums for so long, and now they are out and about looking and staring at us for love, it's just an out of body feeling...I'm so sorry to hear about the #2's. Maybe this will make you feel better...I had to have Scott hold my hand to get me through the first one postpartum, I felt like I was giving birth to Jolie's twin. Congrats on the weight loss - sounds like it's going to fall off of you, lucky dog :) You are doing a fantastic job, don't worry about the no showers (we can't smell you through the screens) :) Also, I'm so proud of you sticking with the BFing...I knew you'd be successful at it...if you ever need anything you know where you can get gmail account is connected to my blackberry so I get them almost instantly...Give that cutie some sugars from me and Jols...Love you girl!!! XOXO - M

Christy said...

We are in pretty much the same place. Andrew is 1 month old today. I call Andrew my little "time sucker". I have no idea what happens to time, and I have no idea how I'll manage to return to work in October. Andrew also has the hiccups a couple of times each day. They don't seem to bother him and we just wait it out. Andy doesn't have colic, but we went weeks with him insisting on being held all night long. If he wasn't being held he was crying crazily. This week we figured out a night time plan that works so that all of us get lots of sleep. Let's hope it continues! Good luck!

Geohde said...

I find it's simply every day is a new day and I begin again. And somehow we all make it. And then the next day. And the next.

You get the idea,


(your little one shares his birthday with my girls of course)

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

I'm so with you, Kristen. Sounds like are children are quite similar. If you ever need to talk or vent, feel free to email me. Lord knows, having someone to talk to who is in the EXACT same boat (down to the birth date too!) really helps.


Rachel said...

I'm sorry about the colic. It does get better, hang in there. If you need a break from the crying, just ask for it. Any friend or family member will help out if you just ask. Just remember, it isn't caused by anything you have done.

2nd, for the diaper changes, try warming up the wipe before you use it. They are pretty cold on the delicate areas. You can buy a warmer but just holding one in your hand for a few seconds will take the shock of the coolness away. That helped me a lot.

LG was clingy too, and still is somewhat. I made a rule that I was going to take a shower and eat at normal meal times and I would set him down to do those things. If he cried, I just ate or showered more quickly.

You are doing a great job!

Barb said...

Great info. Thanks!

Somewhat Ordinary said...

Wow, 4 weeks already! Isn't is amazing?

I have a happy spitter, too, but it still isn't fun. Invest in lots of burp clothes and bibs. My son is almost 6 months now and the more they get in the tummy the more that comes out. I'm told it will eventually pass, but I'm waiting patiently!

docgrumbles said...

Glad he was worth the wait! Good luck with all of it!

Courtney said...

Could someone have warned us that there is actually a learning spiral, or figure eight as opposed to a curve???!??

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